Breaking News
0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your Investing.com experience. Save up to 40% More details

As Singapore pauses reopening, experts suggest 'bolder' COVID-19 strategy

CoronavirusSep 09, 2021 05:27AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
3/3 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Office workers spend their lunch breaks at the central business district during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore September 8, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su 2/3

By Aradhana Aravindan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore is ramping up COVID-19 testing and has warned it would not rule out reimposing tighter curbs as infections rise - moves some experts see as too cautious for the vaccine frontrunner that is preparing to live with the virus https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/singapore-prepares-long-term-life-death-with-covid-19-2021-08-17 as an endemic disease.

Strict surveillance and quarantine have been key to its success in dealing with the pandemic, but Singapore has reported a sharp rise in cases to one-year highs https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/singapore-reports-most-coronavirus-cases-more-than-1-year-2021-09-07 this week.

Spooked by the fast pace of transmission, the government has said it would hold off on reopening measures https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/singapore-hold-off-further-reopening-measures-minister-2021-09-03 and urged people to reduce social activities, sparking a debate among experts on if Singapore could "be bolder" given it has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

"There will necessarily have to be some trial and error but I personally think Singapore's vaccination rate now allows us to be bolder with moving forward," said Ooi Eng Eong, an infectious diseases expert at the Duke-NUS Medical School.

Some experts even question the need for rigorous testing in a country where 81% of the 5.7 million population are fully vaccinated and many of the new positive cases are asymptomatic.

With so many people vaccinated, "it's not obvious that we need to know the infection status of asymptomatic contacts", said Alex Cook, an infectious disease modelling expert at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Singapore has mandated routine testing for workers in additional "high risk" settings, started distributing antigen rapid test kits to households and urged everyone to self test even if they are fully vaccinated.

The country recorded 347 new local cases on Wednesday, nearly triple the infections from two weeks ago. It has reported 56 deaths so far and only six people are in intensive care.

(Graphic: Total no. of COVID-19 daily cases in Singapore: https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/SINGAPORE/jnpweeqydpw/chart.png)

MORE CURBS A LAST RESORT

With infections doubling each week due to the highly contagious Delta variant, the government predicts as many as 2,000 daily cases in a month at the current trajectory.

However, more than 90% of new cases are either asymptomatic or with very mild symptoms.

Singapore's approach contrasts with other vaccination frontrunners such as Israel, the United States and England that eased restrictions as they inoculated a large portion of their population and suffered a surge in cases and hospitalizations.

"We know from the experience of other countries, that when cases rise so sharply, there will be many more ICU cases and also people succumbing to the virus," said Lawrence Wong, Singapore's finance minister and the co-chair of its coronavirus task force.

While more curbs would be the last resort, he cautioned the government may have no choice if severe cases rise sharply.

The government has said it can open as many as 1,000 ICU beds for COVID-19 patients.

On Wednesday, the health ministry said it was revamping its COVID-19 daily reports to closely track severe illnesses and stop providing data on linked and unlinked cases.

(Graphic: Total. no of severe COVID-19 cases in Singapore: https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/SINGAPORE/zjvqkkxeyvx/chart.png)

COVID-19 MEASURES

To slow transmission, Singapore is testing, contact tracing and ring fencing cases even more aggressively.

The government has asked companies to put in place a "snap 14-day work-from-home regime" in case of a positive case.

It is hospitalising many patients as a precaution, even though they have no or mild symptoms.

Those who are clinically well but still test positive are being isolated at facilities. The government has previously said it plans to pilot home isolation for those fully vaccinated.

However, NUS's Cook pointed out that case isolation, especially in facilities, is not aligned with the stated intent to move to an endemic state like with dengue or influenza.

"Despite hitting a vaccine coverage of over 80% ... and having very low numbers of severe cases as a result, (Singaporeans) are now being told that they need to go back to more restrictions again," he said. "There is a risk that such ambiguity could damage adherence to guidance in future."

As Singapore pauses reopening, experts suggest 'bolder' COVID-19 strategy
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email